• Wine and waves A’sfarewell gifts to Rivera
     | June 14,2013

    In this photo provided by the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera embraces As mailroom employee Julie Vasconcellos prior to the ball game between the As and Yankees Wednesday.

    OAKLAND, Calif. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera got a surfboard and a bottle of Napa Valley white wine as retirement gifts from the Oakland Athletics.

    The pitcher was honored in a pregame ceremony before Thursday afternoons series finale against the As at the Coliseum, the last scheduled visit for the 43-year-old Rivera as he plays his 19th major league season.

    As Riveras Enter Sandman entrance music blared, As manager Bob Melvin and team president Mike Crowley presented the pitcher with the surfboard featuring his No. 42 and As and Yankees logos. The bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc from Groth Vineyards also has his uniform number and is engraved with a special design commemorating this three-game series.

    In addition, Oakland is donating $10,042 to Riveras foundation.

    Melvin caught Rivera while in the New York organization for Triple-A Columbus.

    But he wont take credit for Rivera developing a cut fastball. Back then, it was a four-seam fastball.

    It turned into a little bit of a cutter, and it was probably a good move for him, Melvin said. Hes had an unbelievable career, and not only that hes as good a person as he is a player. Hes meant so much to that organization, continues to mean a lot to that organization, and wish him the best in his career afterward. Its rare that you get a guy like that thats going out on top, and that is the case with him.

    On Wednesday night, Rivera posing as a pizza delivery man surprised longtime As mailroom employee, Julie Vasconcellos, thanking her for all the hard work behind the scenes. Rivera has made similar gestures of appreciation as he visits a city for the final time.

    I love it, Rivera said. Im enjoying every minute.

    The closer nicknamed Mo is considered the best ever. He has 631 career saves and 23 this season.

    I think when the other teams do it, they realize theyre honoring him because of what he meant to the game, not just to the New York Yankees, New York manager Joe Girardi said. I think people are appreciative of it, the way hes handled the game. Hes been somewhat of a spokesperson for the game, a model citizen for the game, a humble player whos the greatest of all time at his position. I think its nice that other clubs honor him.

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